The Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear a public interest litigation demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the Thoothukudi deaths on Monday, ANI reported. The petitioner, advocate GS Mani, asked that the matter be registered as a murder case.
The top court told the petitioner that it could not hear the matter on Friday.
Thirteen people died of injuries sustained during police firing after they protested against Sterlite Copper’s Thoothukudi smelter on Tuesday and Wednesday. Around 70 others were injured in the agitation. The police have arrested 67 people for indulging in violence.
The petition asked that a case be registered against all police officers concerned, including the Thoothukudi superintendent of police and the district collector, Bar and Bench reported. It referred to the incident as a “fake encounter or illegal police fire”.
The advocate also asked the state to compensate the families of those killed during the protests and to those who sustained injuries during the violence. The petition demanded a restoration of internet services in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari.
Earlier on Friday, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Kanimozhi and other Opposition members in Tamil Nadu were detained in Chennai during a dawn-to-dusk shutdown to condemn the police firing on anti-Sterlite protestors in Thoothukudi, ANI reported. Security was stepped up across Thoothukudi city, and around 20,000 security personnel were deployed in sensitive areas, The New Indian Express reported.
The Sterlite Copper smelter
For more than two decades, activists in Thoothukudi have accused Sterlite of contaminating the region’s air and water resources, causing breathing disorders, skin diseases, heart conditions and cancer. Since February, there have been protests in Thoothukudi where Sterlite runs a copper smelter with the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of copper anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day.
On May 24, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board cut power supply to Sterlite Copper’s Thoothukudi smelter after it found that the unit was “carrying out activities to resume production” despite being told not to do so until its licence to operate is renewed.
Earlier, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had issued an interim stay on the expansion of the plant. In April, the pollution control board had rejected the Vedanta-owned smelter’s application to renew its licence to operate beyond March 31.